Living on Ancient Apache Lands
originally published April 5, 2010
Everyone has been asking me what it is like to be here. In this Blog I hope to share it.We live at the Base of the Dragoon Mountains. The view from the front is of Cochise’s Stronghold where he and a strong band of Apaches lived for 7 years. They not only lived but they avoided capture and death from the U.S. Government.
When we think of the Desert even the High Desert we think of cactus and sand, rattlesnakes and scorpions, all of which live here. All of which I have encountered. However, rarely do we think of lush groves of cottonwood trees, cypress and cedars. Mesquite that bloom heavily.
In the land that surrounds our tiny ranch live an amazing assortment of mammals and reptiles that have come to visit. Vast numbers of migratory birds that winter over. Birds and plants that are found ONLY here in this area. The land in teaming with Road Runners, Black tail deer, Bob cats, Mountain Lions, Coyotes, Many many species of Hawks, Owls, Eagles, Vultures, and Jackrabbits. We are feeding a large covey of wild Quail.
Yes, there are cotton tails too. Horned Toad Lizards, Iguanas, Anoles, Tarantulas, Fiddleback Spiders, Black Widows, Brown Recluse, Wolf Spiders, Giant Desert Centipedes, Millipedes and nasty little Arizona Bark Scorpions. The Scorpions present the most danger. They can kill a small child, there are more scorpion stings and spider bites treated in the Emergency Rooms in a single year than Snake bites in 5 years.
The snakes really don’t want to be noticed. They are here to eat small game, especially disease carrying rodents. This is a good thing.
What i have listed above is what we have been living with. There are more animals in the region, we just have not crossed their paths yet.
We live at about 4500′ above sea level. Sutton Ma was 1-400 ft above sea level. That's fairly normal. At 4500′ life changes dramatically – especially when cooking or driving. The closest town, Benson, is at 3500′ – we are generally 10 degrees cooler at any given time with wind. Granted maybe only 3 mph but sustained from the west blowing.
I really love that breeze in August, September and October evenings but the 50 mph sustained with 70 mph gusts in January for days on end complete with driving sleet and snow, i saw no difference than being in the Northeast EXCEPT in the Northeast they maintain the roads – as in PLOW or Salt.
That is not the case here. Not in Southern Cochise County. There is no equipment or budget. Options: stay home, state closes roads asks you to stay home unless you have chains and 4-wheel drive, and proof of residency. Snow Ice and such are generally gone before noon.
Cochise County is as big as Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. They employ 100 sheriffs. They need 1000. That is not going to happen so everyone here has a weapon. Carries on their person – some men enjoy wearing 2 guns – its all very Wild Wild West… and a good idea for it takes at least 1 hour for any emergency response team to get on site out here. They are working on that though.
AZ just received a grant for $56k to purchase and install repeaters for the radios and cell phones. Once they are installed they believe they can spread the sheriffs out a bit more. Right now they need to stay in radio range.
I am not sure I will ever get used to seeing gun belts on gals in the supermarket buying Captain Crunch.
This is also OPEN RANGE area where cattle have more rights than men. They way to protect yourself is to fence in your property, 100%. We did. And, there is a specific way to hang that fence to make it Cattle Legal. The grazing is poor and must be supplemented. 1000 acres can feed 12 cows. A neighbor had the grazing lease but he was running 100 head or better and not supplementing enough – his cows began to enter private yards and eat delicacies such as jumper cables, tire covers, hub caps and such. Keep in mind oxidized metals are salt heavy…
That same individual was out of state on business when his neighbor decided it would be kind of cool to keep up western traditions and stole his cows. Another neighbor had pictures of him in the act. the pictures ended up in the hands of the Brand Inspector otherwise known as God – who takes Cattle rustling very serious – it is still a hang-able offense. The case has yet to be tried but the Rustler and family have left town.
We have a well share. that means we share a well with 3 other homes. This is good news because the other option was to drive into the town well and fill up your tank and jugs on your own metered access that the county promptly bills you for. We watch neighbors on the valley hauling 2-500 gals every other day. We know ranches with livestock and even a Restaurant Bar Grille Campground that hauls in 1500 gals on a slow day. She has horse there too…. We are VERY LUCKY
As for the Medicine.. I will leave that for the moment – my next blog perhaps. What i will say now is that last summer i saw more rainbows then all in my lifetime combined. They were always Full Arches Full spectrum colors and also in pairs or 3. Never a Single Rainbow… Imagine that? Things that take your breath away